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A Collegiette’s Guide to the 2013-2014 NHL Season

Last Tuesday you might notice an increased amount of Capitals apparel on campus, something that can only mean one thing: the start of the NHL season.The 2013-2014 Hockey Season kicked off October 1st with three different games scheduled that day across the country. Here’s what you can expect from professional hockey this season:

What Happened Last Season:

Last season got off to a rough start. There was a lockout preventing the season from starting in October, as it typically does. After a brief hiatus, the season began in January after the team owners and the players association reach a new collective bargaining agreement. Each team played only 48 games, compared to the typical 82. The Washington Capitals, despite wining their division with 57 points, didn’t manage to make it past the first round of the playoffs, falling to the New York Rangers in seven games. Despite an early playoff exit, Alex Ovechkin, the Capitals captain and superstar forward, won the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league’s MVP. The Chicago Blackhawks dominated from the start, going 24 games without losing in regulation, a new league record. They fought past the Minnesota Wild, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, and the Boston Bruins to win the Stanley Cup.

What’s Expected to Happen This Season:

This season is going to look different that last’s in a few different ways. The first, and most obvious, is that it is a full 82 game season, which means the return of both the Winter Classic and the All-Star Game. This season also marks the start of the new realignment. Instead of three divisions of five teams in each conference, there are now two divisions or either seven or eight teams in each conference. In previous seasons, the top eight teams from each conference, which was determined by points, were included in the playoff race. This year it’s going to look a little different. The top three teams from each division will be guaranteed a spot. The extra two spots are now “wild cards,” they will be given to the remaining two teams with the most points regardless of which division they are in.

 

Last year’s champs, the Chicago Blackhawks, are favored to win the Stanley Cup again. A Stanley Cup repeat hasn’t happened since the 1997-1998 Detroit Red Wings, but the Blackhawks looked poised to do so, retaining most of their Stanley Cup roster from last year, including all six defensemen and star forwards Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, and Marian Hossa, as well as Rookie-of-the-Year nominee Brandon Saad. Although the Blackhawks have a strong roster, there are a few teams that are prepared to dethrone them. The Bruins fell just short of the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finals last season, giving up two goals in 17 seconds to lose game six. This year they’re back and more prepared than ever. Captain Zedeno Chara as well as star forward Milian Lucic and goalie Tukka Rask will all be returning, accompanied by a healthy Patrice Bergeron who played in the Stanley Cup Finals with torn rib cartilage, a broken rib, punctured lungs, and separated shoulder. The Pittsburgh Penguins are also capable of defeating the Blackhawks as long as NHL superstarts Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin stay healthy and goaltending is consistent.

What The Season Looks Like For the Capitals:

This season will definitely pose a new challenge for the Washington Capitals. They went form being in the worst division in the NHL to the newly formed Metropolitan Division, which will mean they will be facing the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, and the Boston Bruins, among others, much more often, making for a tougher schedule. However, the Caps could be in real contention for a division title if Alex Ovechkin keeps up his MVP-caliber play and with the addition of young rookies Tom Wilson and Connor Carrick. The skill of these forwards paired with the strength of returning defensemen Mike Green, Karl Alzner, and John Carlson, should guarantee the Capitals a spot in the playoffs.

NHL Cuties:

Hey, a little eye candy doesn’t hurt, right?

Evander Kane, Winnipeg Jets, @EKane9JETS

Evander, 22, will be returning to the Jets for his third season in the NHL. Kane is known for his skill on the ice and fashion sense off of it.

Tom Wilson, Washington Capitals, @tom_wilso

Tom will be entering his first full season with the Capitals this year at just 19 years old. Despite his skill on the ice, fans also love him for his close resemblance to Tim Riggins from “Friday Night Lights.” Clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose.

Jeff Skinner, Carolina Hurricanes, @JeffSkinner

The 21 year old and 2011 Rookie-of-the-Year is affectionately know around the league as the “Justin Bieber of Hockey.”

The NHL kicked off Tuesday, October 1st as the Capitals take on the reigning champions Chicago Blackhawks in Chicago. The game starts at 7:00pm and can be watched on NBC Sports Network.

 

Pictures credit of Washington Post and Bleacher Report

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